I’m a big fan of free writes. When sitting down to work on a project, I like to start out with a fifteen minute free write. Anything and everything is acceptable, no matter how petty or trite. Skipping this process tends to result in fewer words written overall and a tendency to become distracted. Most of the time, what comes out is self-serving drivel: my plans for the day, a great meal I’ve recently cooked and/or eaten, a rant about well-meaning family members who just don’t “get it”. Sometimes I surprise myself by coming up with something coherent— and maybe even cohesive.
What follows is the result of my most recent free write. It’s clearly the beginning of something, though I’m still a bit fuzzy on exactly what. Mostly, I’m sharing it to prove that you can plant your butt at the page with every intention of kvetching about noisy neighbors and the ever-growing pile of dishes and still walk away with something that makes you think, “Hey, not bad.”
If you like what you read here, I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments.
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“What can I get for you?”
My ears pricked at the deep, Southern drawl.
“I’ll have a burger, medium, no fries.”
“Something to drink with that, sir?”
“And for you, ma’am?”
Yeah, it was him all right. I knew his family owned the place, but, I had no idea he’d still be around four years later. My chest tightened, among other things.
“I’ll have the meatloaf with a side of gravy.”
“And to drink?”
“A diet coke.”
“Great, I’ll have those cokes out for you in a few moments.”
I shielded my face with the menu as he stalked past the booth. His stride was just as I remembered: long and heavy, yet agile. He even smelled the same.
The restroom door creaked and out marched Sarah, wiping her hands on her jeans.
“No paper towels. Fucking hick town.” She slid into the booth. “You okay, Callie?”
I peered over the laminate. “Yeah, fine.”
She opened her menu. “What’s good in this dive?”
“I don’t know. It’s all pretty much classic diner food.”
“Come on, you used to work here back in high school, right? Help me avoid food poisoning.”
“That was years ago. Things change.”
“Nothing changes. Just loses its shine, that’s all.”
“Hmm.” I glared at the Early Bird Special.
“Hot waiter, though.” She snickered.
“Over by the counter. I prefer ‘em clean shaven, as you know, but he’s perfect for you.”
“Aren’t you gonna look?”
“Sheesh. What crawled up your butt?”
I scowled. “Nothing. I’m fine.”
“Well, either way, you’re in luck.”
“Because he’s coming over here.”
“Fuck,” I spat.
His footsteps thudded on the old oak floors. I angled towards the interior of the booth.
“What’s wrong with you?” Sarah whispered.
“Have you ladies had enough time to look at the men—Callie?”
My heart sprang into my throat. The leather groaned beneath me as I rotated. “Hey, Josh.”
Dear, God, that lopsided grin.